Articles5 Ways to Decrease Your Environmental Footprint in Your Home

5 Ways to Decrease Your Environmental Footprint in Your Home

The conversation around climate change and how much humans contribute to it is an ongoing one. While it can be difficult to tell exactly how responsible for global warming people are, there is no denying some culpability. Thus, instead of fighting over percentages and playing the blame game, it is far more helpful to come up with solutions. There are ways each individual can reduce their carbon footprint, or the damage to the environment. Some of these solutions may feel out of reach right now, but most of them are changes you can start working toward today.

1. Consider Going Solar

It’s a big ask, of course. Switching the entire energy system of your household to solar is a major upheaval. It requires an electrician who knows what they’re doing to potentially take you off the centralized power grid. Of course, many residential homes can have a split system wherein you are connected to the grid for when you don’t draw enough solar power. That’s a lot of technical information to say you’ll be using a natural resource to energize your home.

Going solar can cost thousands of dollars, so many people feel it is cost-prohibitive. Even with state and federal grants and tax breaks, coming up with the money upfront can be challenging. Fortunately, more and more companies are offering solar leasing programs. Instead of paying for solar panels and installation up front, you can spread payments out over 25 years. In most cases, your monthly payments will be dramatically smaller than your average power bill — it’s a win/win.

2. Swap Out Appliances

Another option to reduce the carbon footprint of your home is to swap out your appliances. Many older machines in your home draw an enormous amount of energy from the power grid to function. Some of this inefficiency is due to the machines just being old. Much of it is due to malfunctioning parts, sketchy controlling devices, and worn-out seals. Essentially, the machines have to work harder than they did when they were new just to perform.

Look around your home. If you’re running an old washing machine, dryer, refrigerator, or stove, it may be time to make the switch. Newer machines, like Energy Star certified products, will not only use less power, but they can also often save you hundreds of dollars a year. Of course, you don’t have to do it all at once. Start with your oldest appliance and build up from there. You’ll be doing a good service to the environment and saving yourself some cash in the meantime.

3. Manage Your Electrical Needs

If you can’t swap out all your appliances at once, you can manage the way you use them. Many people don’t realize that keeping your appliances plugged in and turned on still uses power. Even when it’s not in use, your stove, washer, and dryer, may be drawing energy from the grid. This means you’re using power you don’t need and spending money you don’t have to.

You can reduce your environmental impact by unplugging appliances when they are not in use. Anything you can’t unplug, you can turn off. For example, you can get into the habit of turning off lights that aren’t in use. Instead, use the natural light from windows by opening doors, shades, and curtains in the morning. Then, at night, only turn lights on in rooms you’re actually in. You’ll likely cut down on your energy usage and save some money as well.

4. Adjust Your Approach to Heating and Air Conditioning

It can be challenging to figure out the right balance of heating and cooling. You hear jokes about old-school dads who wouldn’t let their kids touch the thermostat. The jokes are funny, but Dad knew what he was talking about. Of course, the power bill will shoot up when the heater is on high all winter, but the energy output will also skyrocket. The same rule applies to the air conditioner.

You can have a nice warm house in the winter and a refreshingly cool one during summer. First, make sure your home is well insulated and that you have double-paned windows to trap the heat inside. Next, ensure you have ceiling fans and screens on your windows to circulate air on hot days. Finally, set your thermostat and air conditioner at a pleasant temperature during the day and aim to keep the appliances off at night. This approach will keep your energy draw low and your house comfortable.

5. Compost and Recycle

Finally, if you’re not already doing it, recycle and compost whenever you can. And if you are doing it, look for ways to increase your contribution. Recycling materials like paper, plastic, and metal wherever possible keeps those items out of landfills, which create greenhouse gasses as cardboard and plastic sit and degrade. Recycling these items also saves the energy it would take to produce brand-new ones.

Check out the website for your local waste management company to see what materials they accept. Also, look into how to separate and clean items before recycling. Further, make sure you’re adding any food items or other green material to a compost bin. If you garden, this can create fantastic fertilizer. If you fish, you can use it to grow your own worms too. These small changes can have a positive impact on the environment over time.

5 Ways to Decrease Your Environmental Footprint in Your Home
5 ways to decrease your environmental footprint in your home

It’s a sad reality today that many citizens think their individual actions don’t matter. The truth is they matter much more than you realize. Each individual is part of a collective — a community — that, when added together, can change the world. And the good news is that when you make positive changes in your home, you are also modeling for others. So, not only can you help improve the environment, but you can also inspire others to do the same.

Bryan Thomas
Bryan Thomas
Hello, I'm Bryan Thomas, a passionate advocate for sustainable living, emergency preparedness, and self-reliance. With over a decade of experience in homesteading and a background in environmental science, I aim to educate and inspire others to live a more sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyle.


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